Talk:James Herriot

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A note[edit]

Brian Sinclair was never a partner in the veterinary practice of Sinclair and Wight. Brian Sinclair joined the Ministry of Agriculture after the Second World War, and worked there until his retirement. Source: Wight, Jim. (1999). The Real James Herriot: The Authorized Biography. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart. ISBN 0-7710-8843-4. -- 01:33, 31 August 2005 (UTC)

Fact vs. Fiction[edit]

This paragraph needs a total rewrite:

Wight's books are only partially autobiographical, and the stories and characters should not be assumed to have happened or existed exactly as related. Contrary to popular belief, many of the stories are based only loosely on real events or people, and thus can be considered primarily fiction. Even when writing accurately of real events and people, Wight frequently employed authorial licence to present them in a manner that bore little relation to the genuine chronology of his life.

Not only does it sound opinionated, but has no basis in actual fact. In The real James Herriot: A memoir of my father, Jim (Wight's son) emphatically denies this very claim. He says that 90% of the stories told are accurate and only dates and names were rearranged for privacy reasons. Either the entire paragraph should be deleted or at the very least we should include Jim's claim in a rewrite. While I understand that Jim is naturally going to be biased, there is no way to verify the truth of the matter and there is certainly no proof that Herriot's work was "primarily fiction." Thoughts? MagnoliaSouth (talk) 02:43, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

I see that someone has attempted to make a citation for this, though it's incorrect. Still though, I believe the above paragraph requires revision since another book (as mentioned above), which I can also cite says that the books are not fiction. Interesting that user failed to sign in and post here. MagnoliaSouth (talk) 00:40, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

I read the son's book too and he does say that a lot of the stories were from other vet's experiences as well. For example the story about Herriot's ride across the moore during winter with Granville Bennett was someone else's history. It is not unusual for a writer to change a story quite a bit, esp. when it goes thru an editor. Doesn't make it a lie, doesn't make it completely fiction, but is does make it "based on fact". An autobiography is less reliable than a biography anyway for fact-telling b/c nobody can retell their own lives without bias. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:14, 21 June 2011 (UTC)


I think it would have been more appropriate to name this page Alf Wight and have a redirect from James Herriot. After all, the article should be titled after his real name. Inkworldluver (talk) 00:39, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

Interesting point and I would have to agree with you there. James Herriot should remain, but as you say redirect to his true name. I'd take it a step further and say that it still should not be Alf Wight, but James Alfred Wight, his full name. MagnoliaSouth (talk) 02:47, 26 October 2008 (UTC)


Herriot had a wife (Helen) children, Jimmie(later became a vet) and Rosie, who became a human doctor. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 18:12, 4 February 2004 (UTC)

Wife's real name was Joan. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jcuk (talkcontribs) 23:39, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

BTW "human doctor" = MD. Medical Doctor as opposed to Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM; U.S.). The article is really spare and does not give any details about whether the practice still exists and whether it's been handed down in the family. We all know his son is/was a vet (is he still alive?) but were any of the grandkids involved in the practice? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:02, 21 June 2011 (UTC)


Thanks to User for fixing my error (Darrowby not "Darby"). ~ Dpr 16:59, 23 July 2005 (UTC)


Might it be better if the picture at the head of the article were of Herriot/Wight instead of the surgery? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 21:47, 25 February 2007 (UTC)

Do you have a free license photo for that? It's a great idea, but we need a picture that we can use. MagnoliaSouth (talk) 02:51, 26 October 2008 (UTC)


Under "Biography", it says:

"From 1940 until 1942, Herriot served in the Royal Air Force"

But under "Author" it says:

"Wight himself was conscripted in 1942". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:50, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

Evidently this was fixed, although the "From" remained for whatever reason which was grammatically incorrect. I fixed that part. MagnoliaSouth (talk) 02:56, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Non relevant links[edit]

Whilst doing some research into the locations mentioned in the books I worked my way through the external links and was annoyed and frustrated to find that 2 of them appeared to be jumping on the JH bandwagon by largely advertising tourist attractions with no relevance to the article. I can appreciate the desire to attract tourists, but (mis)using an encyclopedia isn't the way to do it, and is in breach of WikiPedia guidelines. I will remove the offending links, for more info. please refer to Wikipedia:External_links. -- John 12:12, 9 November 2007 (UTC)

Articles and book reviews to use for refs[edit]

Here are a few items I found while seeing if the "But It Did Happen to a Vet" article was online. The book reviews in some cases have a bunch of biographical info on Wight.

  • Stefan Kanfer. "The Marcus Welby of the Barnyard," TIME, Jun. 29, 1981. (book review)
  • William R. Doerner. "How Now, Brown Cow?", TIME, Feb. 19, 1973. (book review - this one doesn't really have much info and the author clearly hadn't read the book closely, thus makes various mistakes, such as thinking Tricki Woo is female)
  • Kathleen Adams, Christine Gorman, Lina Lofaro, Michael Quinn, Sribala Subramanian, and Sidney Urquhart. Milestones, TIME, March 6, 1995 (brief obituary).
  • Untitled column, TIME, Feb. 27, 1978 (a brief within a larger column)
  • Untitled column, TIME, Jan. 15, 1979 (a brief mentioning various people receiving Order of the British Empire titles).

"But It Did Happen to a Vet" appears to be reproduced here with a claim at the bottom "© Time December 14, 1992" even though a search of Time magazine's archives suggest that it wasn't published there. Could there be another publication by that name? Could they have meant The Times? (Seems unlikely.) Lawikitejana (talk) 15:06, 20 July 2008 (UTC)

These are excellent, but even the Milestone obit in Time has errors. He wasn't born in Scotland. MagnoliaSouth (talk) 16:11, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

Request for image[edit]

As noted above, I have tagged this as needing a photo. The current photo is not of James Herriot, but the building he worked in which is ridiculous! Do you show pictures of where you work when someone wants to know what you look like? While I agree that a picture of his practice would enhance the article, it shouldn't be where a photo of him is needed. MagnoliaSouth (talk) 11:12, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

Writing a draft[edit]

I just wanted to notify anyone that I'm presently working on a draft for a rewrite that will be much less confusing and won't read like a timeline... hopefully. I do have a sick mother, so I may have to put it on hold if something happens. MagnoliaSouth (talk) 15:13, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

Sounds good. Hope your mother's improved by now. Above, on this talk page, I listed a few possible refs. It would be good if we could (a) clean out the bits of the "Author" section that appear to be someone's personal attempts at literary critique and (b) add a bit more about the real person. The articles I've read in periodicals suggest that Alf Wight was, like most of us, a complex person; that he struggled with depression; that there's a good bit more to know than what one gleans from the books. Such depth of information is, after all, Wikipedia's goal. Lawikitejana (talk) 21:16, 19 November 2011 (UTC)

English, Scottish, British?[edit]

Was a little surprised to see him described here as English, knowing he was brought up and educated in Scotland, only moving south as an adult, although his English parentage and initial 3 weeks of life may have been significant in self-identification I guess. Would British possibly be preferable in this instance? I have a vague recollection of hearing his voice, still with a Scottish accent although I can't find clips to back this up, not that this fact alone would be definitive. Mutt Lunker (talk) 14:59, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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